Species Factsheets

Arethusa bulbosa


View as PDF

State Status: Pennsylvania Endangered (PE)
PBS Status: Pennsylvania Endangered (PE)
Federal Status:

Global Rank: G5 rank interpretation
State Rank: S1

Did You Know?

Even though the flowers of this species are fragrant and showy there is little to no pollen available to pollinators from this plant.

Arethusa bulbosa


Dragon's-mouth (Arethusa bulbosa) is a magenta-pink orchid with flowers 2.5-5cm long. The lower lip is purple-spotted and crested with yellow hairs. The flower stalk, 5-38cm, arises from a bulb loosely rooted among mosses. A single, grasslike leaf develops after the plant blooms.

Rank Justification

Critically imperiled in the nation or state because of extreme rarity (often 5 or fewer occurrences) or because of some factor(s) such as very steep declines making it especially vulnerable to extirpation from the state.


Dragon's-mouth grows in open, sunny sphagnum moss bogs and swampy meadows.

Survey Dates

Flowers late May - June




Only 3 of 26 historical populations in Pennsylvania can still be found. One population was destroyed when its wetland habitat was inundated during the creation of Pymatuning Reservoir. Eight populations have not been relocated although suitable habitat still remains at the sites. It is suspected that these plants were stolen. Collection, deer browsing, and habitat destruction contribute to the decline of this beautiful orchid.


One population is in a privately owned natural area. The site is monitored by the Presque Isle Audubon Society and the Botanical Society of Western Pennsylvania. Habitat at a second site is protected by current state regulations. Plants from the third site located on State Forest land will be included in the Public Wild Plant Sanctuary Network. State regulations prohibit the taking of any plant from State Forests. In addition, the Wild Resource Conservation Act sets fines for removal of Endangered and Threatened plant species, without landowner permission, at $100 per plant.

Conservation Status Map


Map Legend

NatureServe. 2017. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available https://explorer.natureserve.org.


  • NatureServe. 2018. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available at https://www.natureserve.org/explorer
  • Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program. 2018.
  • Rhoads, A.F. and W.M. Klein, Jr. 1993. The Vascular Flora of Pennsylvania. American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Rhoads, A.F. and T.A. Block.
  • 2007. The Plants of Pennsylvania: An Illustrated Manual. 2nd edition. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
PNHP is a partnership between The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources,
the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission,
and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.
DCNR Home Page
PA Game Commission Home Page
PA Fish and Boat Commission Home Page
Western PA Conservancy Home Page
DCNR Home Page PNHP | Forestry Home | Contact Us | Search This Site
© 2019 PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
DCNR Home Page